Today, finally the long-waited Amazon MP3 Store has launched (softly) in the UK. I am so excited with this news and I will tell you why in a second.
But first of all, I have to say that I’ve never been a big fan of buying music online and I blame it on Label Companies (greedy and ignorant SOBs) and on the iTunes Store (supposedly the biggest music online retailer by far). You can guess where this is going, can’t you? The songs are DRM-ed, which means I can only play it on certain environments (e.g. iPod or iTunes), and when they are not, as in the case of iTunes Plus, the highest bit rate you can get is 256 Kbps in AAC. Granted that most people don’t care about bit-rates or in which format the song is encoded as long as they can listen to it; but I DO. And to top this all, for £7 (less or often more) per album, or £0.79 per song, I think you would all agree that this is a total rip-off, I would rather go to my local HMV, buy the CD and ‘rip’ it myself, no pun intended :)
Before I go on with the Amazon Store, I must tell you first about a similar service that also recently launched in the UK, called 7digital. They sell non-DRM MP3s, of which most of them are encoded at 320 Kbps. However, they cost a bit more than iTunes, with singles priced from £0.79 up to £0.99. Please go and check them out, they have Free Download just in case you want to try.
So, what is so great about Amazon MP3 Store? Well, for one they sell non-DRM MP3! Freedom baby! Most of these MP3s are encoded 256 Kbps VBR (Variable Bit Rate). Take that iTunes! And you can buy these MP3s straight off the Internet, no more iTunes app, which means you can get your favorite songs in any platform you want (PC, Mac, and Linux). Although you still need to use Amazon Downloader Applet if you want to download the whole album. Amazon recommends that you install this small app before your first purchase.
In term of the number of songs, Amazon has music from all 4 big labels (Universal, EMI, Sony BMG and Warner) and even some independent ones, though obviously not as many as iTunes Store, for now, which I am sure Amazon will rectify as times go by.
Last but certainly not the very least, their songs are ‘cheaper’ than iTunes and 7digital!
For example, I’ve been wanting to buy the new Coldplay Album “Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends” (I am glad I haven’t bought it yet).
For comparison, the CD for the same album will cost you £6.83.
Now, I don’t know how long Amazon will continue to offer this seemingly too-cheap pricing for. One could say that this is just a part of marketing campaigns that Amazon is doing to drive customers away from its competitors. But if it continues on like this, it will only benefit the competitions, because then it will force the other services to go down in price, all for the advantage of us the customers.
It’s been a long wait, but I think it’s worth it. I have been holding back in buying music online, but now I feel that this is the time for me to start to do it. And I am urging you to do the same, stop pirating and downloading from Torrents (or whichever peer to peer networks you are in), start supporting the non-DRM music and show those Fat-Cat Music Labels (Yeah You!) that un-DRM music can work. I really believe that what Amazon MP3 Store has done today will open a new door, at least in the UK, for a wider adoption of Digital Music, and you would want to be a part of it.